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A vintage year in the making

WINE enthusiasts across the country are always eager to find out first hand what vintage conditions were like in their favourite area.

At this stage, while it’s possible to get an overall idea, many of the wines are still only just coming together. Getting an indication of how different regions have fared is an important indicator for many in the trade and dedicated punters.

What must be remembered is that each property is unique and only a general appraisal is able to be given. Individual properties are subject to differences that may or many not affect their overall finished product.

The 2001 winegrape harvest across Australia achieved another record haul – about 1.3 million tonnes – which represented about a 14 per cent growth in grapes crushed from the 2000-vintage harvest.

Interestingly, red wine has risen from a 50-50 standing with white wine to 55-45 ratio in this vintage. Reports also have indicated across that country that red grapes, and in particular shiraz, have fared better than white in terms of overall quality – good news for consumers both here and abroad, as both are demanding more red wine.

The Vintage Wrap up for 2001 ...

Barossa Valley: There were a few problems with heat wave conditions in the early part of ripening conditions, affecting mostly the white varieties, however parcels harvested in the cooler period that followed showed real promise. Look out for shiraz, it seems to have been a winner across the region, with strong varietal fruit characters with pronounced aromatics.

Clare Valley: Although there were a few problems with heat, there looks like being some outstanding wines produced across the region. Rieslings are showing good varietal aromas and tight structure. While the shiraz again fared very well, there will be some quality cabernets from this vintage.

McLaren Vale: Early-picked grapes suffered due to warm conditions. Some parcels of semillon and chardonnay are showing ample fruit flavour and structure. Those picked late will show the best results. Cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and grenache, all of which ripen later, are looking pretty good with rich colours and masses of flavour.

Coonawarra: One of the areas all wine enthusiastic carefully watch. It seems another ripper vintage has been born. Quality is spot on target and even more exciting is that the volume of fruit is up on estimates. Coonawarra enjoyed a long, warm ripening period, which allowed all the fruit to be picked at optimum levels. The cabernet sauvignon looks fantastic and ripened a few weeks later than normal, which allowed for excellent flavour development. Strong varietal aromatics and structure will be the hallmarks of this vintage, according to a number of winemakers.

Victoria: In general the Victorians fared pretty well. Winemakers are very happy with the flavours they’re getting from the shiraz, while the cabernet is full of aromatics and has plenty of colour, but it seems shiraz will come up trumps again with classic white pepper and blackberry flavours.

NSW: You should find some results with semillon and verdelho from this vintage. Most of the fruit was picked a little earlier that normal due to weather conditions inducing early ripening. The reds are shaping up with classic Hunter traits, in particular the shiraz.

Western Australia

Margaret River: Margaret River has had one its best vintages in recent years. The red varieties from both the northern and southern aspects of the region all have exciting characters, with good colour and flavours. The shiraz is displaying plenty of rich and ripe berry flavour, with good tannin structure. Some are saying the reds are outstanding and it could be the best the region has scene. The fruit at both Vasse and Voyager had amazing depth of colour and flavours, with the wines showing elegant tannin structure. White wines from the region didn’t quite fare as well as the reds, however selected parcels of sauvignon blanc and semillon looked very good. Chardonnay preformed consistently across the region and most of the wine makers seem happy with the flavours and development thus far. Look out for the shiraz and cabernet wines form this vintage you will find some stunning wines.

Great Southern Region: After a few very difficult vintages over the past few years, the Great Southern regions really has something to smile about. Most varieties have produced outstanding results, which will further cements the region’s reputation. The rieslings are showing dynamic flavours, and the acidity levels will give many of these wines plenty of life. The reds, much like the white varieties, are showing real promise. The pundits have suggested the shiraz from Frankland will be the best that has been produced.

Swan Valley: Another winning region for WA. The shiraz and grenache looks stunning, plenty of rich colour and masses of ripe fruit. The chardonnay and chenin gives hope to some very flavoursome and exciting wines.

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